Hey all, I'm curious as to what your habits are when purchasing equipment.
I didn't see a "polls" feature, so I thought I'd throw out a couple of options and get some feedback. I'm not specifically interested in apparatus purchases, but everyday equipment such as helmets, gear, gloves, medical equipment, saws, etc. etc.
a.) Referral from others
b.) Google / Yahoo! search
c.) Sales reps
Chris, we buy almost exclusively from the sales guys that represent the different companies. Some times its internet but mostly I deal with the face to face Sales people. Generally if you search Google for specific products you will find sales people for your area who will help you out.
Lots of junk and gimics out there, use your natural instinks , when I came into the fire service, we had a hammer, an ax, crowbar and we did it all. Looking on to the fire mags today, hey, they got junk that you would never remember you had when you got to the scene. Helmets, I wore a New Yorker in Minnesota 35 years ago when only 3 fire instructors in the state had them. We were laughed at, castigated, etc. And today after 911, they are all buying them. Its a real fire helmet, sheds water, has a great "crush". Now at age 70, and still selling Seagrave fire engines and trucks, im waiting for them to start buying real fire trucks and engines! Most of the aluminum and plastic fire engines are nothing but unsafe junk to ride to a fire in, like riding in an eggshell!
Let me speak from the salesperson perspective. I work with a lot of fire departments, in northeast WI and around the country. Your sales reps should give you the best price right up front, whether you are buying one of something or 100 of them. The other thing is, they need to call you back or return emails within a day or two. If you have to chase them down to show you an item or quote an item, you are not going to get any service after the sale. Most importantly, and this you will not know until after you have bought something from a rep, they need to be your advocate with the manufacturer. If there is a delay in a product being shipped, they should be calling to find out why there is a delay. They should be trying to get the vendors to reduce pricing to help keep costs down. This doesn't always work, but it can't hurt to ask. Many vendors will give a little on price if asked. That is their job. Remember, the sales reps work for you, make sure they do a good job.